US District Letter: Appreciating the Priesthood and the Work of the Seminary
Never have priests been so under-appreciated, misunderstood, and, in many instances, reviled. But never have they been so needed!
This is a time of unprecedented crisis, both in the Church and the world and, just when the role of the priest in the lives of the faithful should be key, there are fewer and fewer faithful priests to be found.
The priest is under attack constantly; certain countries are attacking the legal basis of the seal of the confessional and priests who preach traditional Catholic teaching on morality are finding themselves ostracized and marginalized.
And, with the decreasing number of vocations, there are constant calls to redefine and “update” the role of the priest. These calls come from within and without the Church. This year the Holy See has called for an upcoming synod, the Amazonian Synod, which threatens to drastically change the role of the priest and the nature of the priesthood.
German Cardinal Walter Brandmüller recently published a public criticism of the “working document,” the planning tool, of this Amazonian Synod. In his critique, Cardinal Brandmüller warns that one of the major aims of the synod is “the abolishment of (priestly) celibacy and the introduction of a female priesthood—starting first with female deacons…”
While this plays out, many Catholic faithful are losing their understanding and appreciation of the priest as the unique conduit of sacramental grace, without whom, it is almost impossible to make it to Heaven. How many souls have practically abandoned the sacraments of penance and the last rites of the Church? And, others, who still appreciate the importance of these sacraments have great difficulty finding faithful traditional priests who will hear their confession or administer the last rites.
These are two critical means of salvation which fewer and fewer Catholics avail themselves of. This leads inevitably to the loss of countless souls. This is a tragedy that can never be adequately comprehended by the living, but its consequences are eternal separation from God and immeasurable suffering. God Himself became man to prevent this horror, and He left behind His ministers to ensure that “I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.”
While vocations suffer in many areas of the Church, the Society has been blessed. Our ranks continue to grow. Just last month, on the morning of Friday, June 21, His Excellency Bishop Tissier de Mallerais celebrated the annual ordination Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary, assisted by dozens of priests and hundreds of faithful from across the nation.
The Society is not attempting to maintain the status quo in regard to the priesthood; we’re engaged in an active battle to turn the tide back to the good, the true, and the beautiful and thereby, as stated in our motto, to “Restore All Things in Christ.”
Archbishop Lefebvre had this to say about the importance of the priesthood: “A priest enlightened by his faith and filled with the virtues and the gifts of the Holy Ghost can convert numerous souls to Jesus Christ, raise vocations, and transform pagan society into Christian society.” When asked by seminarians about the importance of forming new priests, he replied, “It is my vocation! A bishop is made to make priests. A bishop makes the church grow and in this way he is a missionary… Where are priests made? In the seminary!”
The seminary is our secret weapon in the battle to save souls. Our faithful fight beside us in this conflict and we cannot win without you. It’s an awesome balance and division of labor, which consists of our priests administering the sacraments, educating souls, and forming new priests to enter the battlefield; and you, God’s faithful, providing us with the prayers and financial means to do so.
At this time, when traditional seminaries like St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary are so rare, and so important, may I ask you to make a gift in support of our seminary? A gift of $100, or $50, or even $20 would be such a great help and deeply appreciated.
Without your support, we can’t continue to provide new priests for the Church. Souls are hanging in the balance. We need you to help us in this critical moment in the history of salvation.
Please be assured of my prayers and my gratitude,
Fr. Jürgen Wegner